Name: Ann Burgess
Job Title: Web Marketing Manager/Web Content Manager (Editorial, Promotions & Co-Branding)
Where: Calgary, Alberta – Canada
Years of Experience: 1.5 years in this position, and 6 Years of marketing in the oil and gas industry
Other Relevant Experience: Recreational shopping and fashion design
Education: International Academy of Design and Merchandising, Toronto, Ontario
Annual Salary: What is the average salary for marketing managers? Use PayScale’s Research Center to find Marketing Manager Salaries, Marketing Director Salaries, and Web Content Manager Salaries.
Over the past ten years, the Internet has noticeably altered traditional methods of shopping, thus launching a boom of companies setting up business through online store fronts. And with the rising cost of fuel, many shoppers are inclined to look online for their purchases rather than driving to the mall. But just like any successful retail store, online stores require teams of qualified professionals to keep them operating at their full potential.
For this Salary Story, we hear from Ann Burgess, an essential part of the team at Shoptoit.ca, a Canada based e-commerce website. Starting her journey in a fashion design career, Burgess eventually moved on to a brief stint as a receptionist before finding her way into her current position in online web marketing and content management. Read on to find some helpful pointers for launching your own online marketing career.
Web Marketing Manager Job Description:
I am the editorial, promotions and co-brand manager of Shoptoit.ca. We are an online shopping search engine catering to Canadians. Shoptoit.ca was formed in 2005 by three brilliant entrepreneurial minds that were sick to death of shopping on US sites and experiencing the setbacks of border duties, ineffective cross-border warranties, shipping costs and all the other things that come along with it. Within no time, Shoptoit.ca had struck deals with big hitters like Yahoo.ca, and AOL.ca to power their shopping engines. And, because we offer bilingual services, our number of Quebec co-brand partners grew quickly as well.
I was brought on board in January 2007 as the editorial, promotions and co-brand manager. Before then, Shoptoit.ca (and our co-brand partners) had no editorial support to promote the major shopping events of the year. My role was to create relevant content that would promote our merchants and their products, while providing a useful research tool to online shoppers. Our editorial library encompasses buying guides like “How to Buy a BBQ” and gift suggestions like “Mother’s Day Gifts for New Moms.” I was also responsible for working with our sales and design departments to create compelling promotional packages for shopping events and seasons like Valentine’s Day, Summer, and Halloween, to name a few.
The goal of bringing me on board was to increase traffic and conversions on our site, and our co-brand sites. So the third main responsibility I hold is to interact with our co-brand partners to get as much exposure on their front pages, and shopping relevant channels, like Lifestyles etc., as possible. This results in increased traffic, increased revenue, and increased awareness of their shopping channel.
PayScale: How did you begin your career in web marketing?
My education is in fashion design, which I worked feverishly at for many years with a partner, then on my own, but never without a supporting job. I learned quickly that unless you have the business skills and marketing savvy to properly promote yourself, fashion designing under your own label is an uphill battle.
I fell into marketing from reception work. I have always had an eye for design and found myself creating invitations and ad campaign mock-ups to keep myself busy at my first reception job. They quickly promoted me into marketing where I worked in promotion, events, and sales. After six years of that at two different oil and gas software service providers, I felt starved for creative subject matter. I longed for something I really connected with and enjoyed. I was referred to Shoptoit.ca by the husband of my last boss and ever since, I haven’t looked back!
PayScale: What do you love about being a web marketing manager?
I love the atmosphere of working with entrepreneurs. There is no ego, and it is openly accepted that we are all just learning this beast!
I really enjoy the ability to try anything, learn from our mistakes, and build on our successes. And our team is young, vibrant and extraordinarily talented. Most are in their mid-twenties and I marvel at their creativity and ability to make things happen at the drop of a hat. The salary is not what it was for me in the oil and gas industry, but the perks certainly make up for it. Our leaders never babysit on specific projects or “bed-check” on Friday afternoons. They are always trusting and supportive.
I have the ability to work from home whenever I like, which is a total bonus on miserable winter days. Dress is casual, and jeans are totally acceptable any day of the week. I have been thrown into the deep end with respect to online marketing, but once again, my bosses are there for me if I need them, but never hovering around, worrying that I might be doing some damage, or needing to control meetings with the higher-ups from our co-brand partners (which does wonders for personal and professional growth!)
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as a web marketing manager?
Deadlines and reaction time for changes! Because we are online and servicing news portals like Yahoo.ca, AOL.ca, TheStar.com, Canoe.ca and many others, our stories, promotions and merchants have to be as current as the next breaking news story.
We live our lives by a promotions calendar, which makes the year scream by. I can honestly say that I have never sped through two years like I have the last, which could be because I am enjoying myself so much. But it’s mostly because we’re always behind the eight ball in publishing. Changes have to be instant, and can mean long hours as you catch up on the day’s work that gets lost in the shuffle.
Short staffing is also an issue for us being a small start-up. We have a total of seven people on the payroll – the development team from our parent company is not paid by Shoptoit.ca, nor are the designers, and we are billed internally for their work. Short staffing however seems to be an issue that many of the big hitters face, whether they be Yahoo.ca, or Mytelus.com – I have just come to surmise that this is how online marketing is!
PayScale: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into a web marketing career?
I can’t really give much advice because this happened so obscurely for me! You definitely need to be open-minded about roles and responsibilities. Mine were very well defined in the oil and gas industry, but here they just grow and grow as we realize something has to be done and there are limited people to do it! Reading and keeping current on news, trends, and blogs is vital to the success of promotions and the general success of day to day shopping submissions to our co brand partners, and front page exposure. It can be tough to nail exactly what it is they are looking for, and there never seems to be one true formula other than staying current.
PayScale: What do you find the most amazing about working in web marketing?
For last year’s Christmas promotion, we did online reviews. Our merchants bought daily sponsor placements for a great deal that were only featured for one day. My French editor and I had to test the products, write scripts, and then shoot film reviews for each one in French and English. It was insane! I was amazed at how difficult it was!
My first day of filming was a disaster. I was completely exhausted when we were done and came home and just cried on the couch. It was a nightmare! They slowly got better as I learned to relax into them, but writing 20 scripts and filming 20 spots added about ten pounds of stress to my body. The worst of it all was that Home Depot, one of our participating sponsors, wanted their videos available to post to their site. So, I am now a firm fixture on YouTube. Since then I have made a few appearances on our local breakfast television show. It was much easier than reading from a teleprompter because you are actually interacting with someone. Dare I say it was fun?
Right now, as Christmas looms, I am putting together a “top gifts for the season” proposal for four to six weekly appearances on the same show. Although, that doesn’t mean I am elated to not have to do video reviews again this year!